My Tryst With Laughter Yoga
Like many lawyers I became slowly restless about my work. It was a niggling feeling that something within my work- life was not quite right. With my growing impatience I decided to learn new skills and spent the next five years working as a telephone counselor, Referral officer and later a trainer for Lifeline. But, once again my restlessness got the better of me and it felt like time to move on.
One day, while thinking about what to do next, I got an immediate answer which was “Start a Laughter Club.” I had no idea what a Laughter Club was and had never heard of it. I think Divine inspiration was the only logical answer! It sounded like a novel concept. Surely there was no harm in that? I started my search on Laughter Clubs and discovered the world of Laughter Yoga. I launched myself into yet another pursuit of this unusual idea of laughing for no reason. In February 2005, I flew to Melbourne and was introduced to Dr. Madan Kataria, the founder of Laughter Clubs and from there began my new journey
I attended the session led by Dr. Kataria in which we went through a series of stretching, breathing and clapping in rhythm with the chant of ho ho ha ha ha, followed by many fun routines designed to cause us to laugh. To my great interest I was told to “fake it until you make it” As a lawyer, I found this concept quite familiar!
Soon I found myself shaking hands while laughing with strangers, moving around and laughing, pretending to laugh while talking on my mobile phone, and generally behaving in quite a silly fashion. The 40 minutes or so were spent mostly in some form of laughter. It seemed the group kept the laughter flowing as we interacted with each other.
We then progressed to something called Laughter Meditation. We sat on the floor and to my surprise within 15 minutes I found myself laughing spontaneously without any clapping or movement or funny exercises. The laughter just poured out of my body by its self. We were then told to lie down to relax. The next thing I knew, I was lying on the floor and my whole body was shaking uncontrollably with laughter in a way I had never experienced before. Surely this could not be happening to a serious lawyer, even one led by a so called divine inspiration. The funny thing was that I thought I was already quite a good laugher!! And yet I had never laughed like this before…for absolutely NO REASON!!!
I could not remember ever having felt the sensation of laughter bursting out of my body, sometimes with the force of a mild explosion. It was like the laughter had a mind of its own. Yes, I was a person who laughed fairly easily when I perceived something was funny. During this session I had not heard one joke and I had seen no funny movies or comedy. Unexpectedly, I found my laughter triggered, by people around me. One glance at each other and one of us would start laughing spontaneously and the other one would follow in laughter apparently with out any control. This was truly a new and unusual phenomenon.
At the end of the two hours, I felt as if my whole body was energized and there was a feeling of lightness, as if all the stress and wait of concerns and thoughts had been lifted from my body and mind. To my surprise I felt unexpectedly and deliriously happy. Yet nothing in my external circumstances or my life situation had changed. The only thing that had changed was within my body. I had released a burst of laughter, energy and joy from within.
The other thing I noticed was the way I felt towards the people around me. I had been laughing for two hours with a room full of strangers and yet some connection had formed between us, particularly between those whose laughter I had fought and exchanged during laughter meditation. I had not spoken to these people and I knew nothing about them and yet they felt like friends. My internal critic was ominously silent, clearly lost for words!!!
What an unexpectedly amazing experience. Now I knew that I was hooked by Laughter Yoga. It was like a drug. I knew I wanted more. Highly inspired, I did my Laughter Leader training and armed with the certificate, I started my Laughter Club in 2005 with just 12 people. Soon, to my surprise I was receiving phone calls from people asking about my Laughter Club and groups and organizations requested I demonstrate Laughter Yoga and run workshops and short sessions in laughter. In keeping with the idea and worldwide mission of Dr. Kataria, Laughter Clubs are a free community program, so I did not charge people for the class. It was just a lot of fun!!!